- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2018

A former Florida police chief who urged his officers to frame African-Americans for an unsolved crime pleaded guilty on Friday to conspiring to charges related to those arrests, the Department of Justice said.

Former Village of Biscayne Park Chief of Police Raimundo Atesiano pleaded guilty in a Florida federal court to conspiring with officers to violate individuals’ civil rights by making false arrests.

Atesiano admitted that on three separate occasions he pressured his officers to false arrest and charge African-Americans with unsolved burglaries. Prosecutors said the arrests are part of a bizarre scheme to keep perfect the town’s record for catching criminals.

In one instance, Atesiano, who resigned in 2014 amid the probe, is accused of framing a 16-year-old for four unsolved burglaries.

According to a report in the Miami Herald, one high-ranking officer told investigators in 2014 that Atesiano demanded his men arrest “anybody black.”

“If they have burglaries that are open cases that are not solved yet, if you see anybody black walking through our streets and they have somewhat of record, arrest them sow e can pin them for all the burglaries,” Officer Anthony De La Torre told federal authorities, according to the paper.

Two other Biscayne Park Police Officers Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez previously entered guilty pleas for their role in the scheme. They will be sentenced on October 16.

Atesiano will be sentenced on Nov. 27.

During Atesiano’s two years managing the department, 29 of 30 burglary cases were solved, according to court documents. But in 2015, that number dropped without any of the 19 reported burglaries being solved.

“The right to be free from false arrests is fundamental to our Constitution and system of justice,” said acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “Law enforcement officers who abuse their authority and deny any individual this right will be held accountable. As the Chief of Police, Defendant Atesiano was trusted by his community to lead their police officers by example; he has failed his community and the officers of Biscayne Park.”

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